Posts Tagged : Community Reinvention Program

The Power of a Historic Building

Note from Jon Schallert: If you received my email newsletter, there is an obvious grammatical error in the 3rd paragraph.  Read down to the bottom of this blog and you’ll learn why it’s there.

Most of you know that our company is located in Colorado, but did you know our company has its offices in a 143-year old historic building in downtown Longmont, Colorado?  In fact, this same historic building is also the location where we conduct our 2½ day Destination BootCamps.

It hasn’t always been this way. When I started teaching the Destination BootCamp class in September, 2002, and for the next 13 years after that, we conducted every BootCamp in a hotel conference room, just like every other company that puts on classes.

But that changed 2 years ago. That was when we decided that a historic building in a progressive downtown was also the best place to hold our Destination BootCamps.

You might wonder what prompted us to give up the simplicity of renting a hotel conference room for our BootCamp, and instead, purchase a former bank building built in 1875 that was filled with surprises like asbestos, faulty plumbing, and sagging ceiling trusses.

It was the power of a historic building!

Let me explain:

When I left Hallmark Cards and started my consulting firm, it was downtown Main Street organizations who were the first groups that decided my message could benefit their downtown business owners. And with every downtown workshop I did, I started to appreciate the uniqueness of the buildings, the history these downtowns, and the stories that radiated from every downtown location. I also started to love the gutsiness of the business owners who built their businesses in these downtowns, when they could have located their businesses into a strip center or a mall much more easily.

So, when Peg and I had the chance to purchase a historic building at 321 Main Street in downtown Longmont, we decided it was worth the risks:

One risk was this building wasn’t directly adjacent to the hotels where our BootCamp attendees liked to stay.

Another risk was the building itself didn’t look historic at all, but as we did a little research, we realized that this 4,650 square-foot two-story was the oldest brick building in Longmont and that it was originally was the home of the Emerson Buckingham Bank, the first bank in Longmont.

Once we realized the historic importance of the building, we then took steps to bring back its historic look. That meant we had to tear out the drop ceiling, the glaring floodlights, the nasty carpet, and scrub off the asbestos black tar that covered the floor. And as we worked, we discovered the brick walls, the wood beams, the original wood floor, and the original marble of the bank lobby’s floor.

But the story just kept getting better: We learned that just 2 doors down from this 321 Main building, was another historic building where a young entrepreneur named James Cash Penney opened his first business. If that name sounds familiar, James Cash Penney came to be known as JC Penney, but when he first started out in business at the age of 23, he owned a meat market. You probably didn’t know this fact because within a year of opening it, the meat market closed, and James had to walk down Longmont’s Main Street and get a job with Longmont retailer Tom Callahan, who taught him about the dry goods business. Eventually, James Penney bought out Tom Callahan and changed the name of all of Tom’s stores and launched the JC Penney’s chain of stores.

It took us 21 months, but when we conducted the first Destination BootCamp in the building on April, 2016, we knew it was right. We also learned that despite not being directly next to Longmont’s “hotel row”, attendees of our BootCamp like that they’re right downtown, in the midst of Longmont’s own downtown revitalization, with shops and award-winning restaurants within walking distance. They tell us they love the history of the building and the vibrancy of our downtown, and I think business owners now sit in my class and look around and say: “I think I could do this in my downtown.”

We now conduct seven (7) Destination BootCamps a year at 321 Main Street. We host independent business owners, community leaders, downtown directors, and economic development professionals from all over the world in our BootCamps, and I think our historic building provides a setting that would be hard to replicate in any traditional hotel conference room.

And that’s the power of a historic building.

Now, on that grammatical error. I’m sure all of you who subscribe to my e-newsletter read it and spotted it. Please don’t send me emails pointing out my mistake. I don’t know how I didn’t spot it, and then, my proofreader didn’t spot it. Guess I shouldn’t write blogs at 11:15 at night and think they’re perfect.  But it’s still gonna bug me because it’s still going to be there, in that 3rd paragraph of that e-newsletter that I sent to thousands of you. Just like most of you, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I should have caught it, but I didn’t. OK, now I feel better, confessing my inability to be perfect.
Thanks!
Jon Schallert

Destination Wyoming Main Street: Four towns, four days, and 1,200 miles

In late April and early May, I’ll be taking my longest-ever speaking road tour – four towns, four days, and 1,200 miles to talk to business owners and community leaders in the small cities and towns spread across Wyoming. The state has plenty of nationally-known tourist destinations, such as Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, and Jackson Hole, and Wyoming Main Street wants to help towns attract travelers to come off the interstate for more than just a pitstop on their way to those vacations.

Linda Klinck, the Program Manager for Wyoming Main Street, wants me to help the businesses in those small towns add more tourists and visitors to the local shoppers to help them succeed: “We don’t have the density. We are so spread out in such small communities. But here’s what we do have: millions and millions and millions of tourists coming through the State each year. I’m challenging the communities to become a Destination and get the people off the highways. The businesses have to be ready for them. You’ve got to provide them the experience they’re hoping to get when they get there.”

Linda and I first met nearly 20 years ago, when I spoke at her state’s Main Street downtown conference in Indiana.  Then, Linda was part of the group in Logansport Indiana who sent a group of business owners through our Community Reinvention Program, where a group of business owners and a Community Leader all attend my Destination BootCamp, and they then enter a 4-month training program to help them successfully launch their new Destination Business goals.  She saw how this helped her hometown of Logansport.  Then, in 2015, Linda moved West and started leading Wyoming Main Street, and that’s when we reconnected again.

Wyoming Main Street is hosting and sponsoring these four workshops, and I’ll be posting the exact times, venue locations, and the cost to attend each Destination workshop in the coming weeks.  For now, put these dates and cities on your calendar for my workshops:

  1. On April 30: I’ll be in the southwest corner of Wyoming in the city of Evanston, and then,
  2. On May 1, I’m in downtown Laramie, then,
  3. On May 2, my workshop’s in Wheatland, and finally,
  4. On May 3, I’ll be ending the speaking tour in northeast Wyoming in the city of Gillette.

Any business owner or community leader, even if you’re outside of the state of Wyoming, can attend the workshop and participate in the learning.

I love speaking trips like this one.  Towns and small cities like these are crucial to our country’s well-being. The business owners in these communities are dedicated to a good life, they work hard, and they are proud of their businesses, homes, and the lives they have there. They deserve to succeed and there are tools and techniques that owners aren’t using that can help them tap the potential of their businesses, and I’m looking forward to helping them during these four days in this beautiful state.

Come stop by and learn something with me during my Wyoming Road-Trip.

Until next week,

Jon

Opportunity for 18 Grand County Business Owners to Participate in Community Reinvention Destination Business Program

Grand County Economic Development will pay for 18 Grand County business owners to participate in Jon Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program which begins with a 2½-day Destination BootCamp in Longmont on October 25-27. The organization is accepting applications for the grants until September 15.

Last year, 18 county business owners took advantage of a similar opportunity to participate in Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program that included his 20-hour Destination BootCamp workshop, 4-months of follow-up training, and a 1-on-1 on-site visit from Schallert to provide specific marketing advice to grow their businesses into “Consumer Destinations” (see photo below).

October late 2015Schallert, who has taught tens of thousands of entrepreneurs how to make their shops irresistible to both local and tourist customers, started developing his trademark 14-point strategy during a decade at Hallmark Cards where his model was called “The Schallert Method”.  Schallert’s firm, The Schallert Group, started in 1996 and is based in Longmont, where he holds six Destination BootCamps a year.  Over the last 14 years, over 50 counties, cities, and towns have participated in the Community Reinvention Program.

“I learned so much,” said Rachel Rayburn, owner of Altitude Jewelry in Winter Park, who attended last year. “It really feels like I’m now starting to see the benefits of that. It just took me a while to sift through all that new information. I was letting everything go on autopilot, and I wasn’t doing anything to market, and that was a mistake. He said, ‘Do lots of little pivots, do little low-cost things, see what works for you. We’ve had a lot of success with that.”

Rayburn implemented Schallert’s shop-rearrangement suggestions after his visit – putting a signature jewelry line on a dominant wall rather than by the door, for example – with immediate results.

“We flipped all of the cases and moved everything around,” she said. “We started seeing the sales of what we make increase almost immediately.”

To apply the BootCamp ideas to her Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro in Winter Park, Susan Volk displayed her unique positioning statement on her most visible wall, promoted local food on a Wall of Fame behind her counter, and installed a copper replica of an old-fashioned expresso machine as the coffee shop’s “monument.”

“It was great to be able to put some of those things to use,” Volk said. “I was also able to use some of that information to create a new brochure that did a better job at telling my story. I think it’s generated a little buzz as well.”

Steve Kudron, owner of Quacker Gift Shop in Grand Lake, said the tips helped his personal business approach as well as his marketing. The store, which specializes in unique tourist-related items like rubber duckies, hand lotions, and fresh fudge, has online and wholesale components, along with his storefront on the boardwalk in Grand Lake.

“During the BootCamp, one of the things I learned was having the right kind of balance as a leader and what were some of the tools to be able to do that,” Kudron said. “That was a good refresher for me and an opportunity for me to make positive changes in our business.

‘I was able to take our understanding as a destination type store and really turn it using his unique positioning concepts. I was able to drill down and find the right blend of marketing as well as uniqueness in our store to really make a difference.”

Last year’s event also provided business owners in the county an opportunity to meet and start sharing ideas.  Business owners from Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Grand Lake, and Kremmling all attended last year.

“It was great to meet people from other parts of the county,” said Volk, who later took a four-day trip to meet fellow participants in their own shops. “I met with a lot of those different business owners and got a chance to check out their businesses. I was struck with the creativity and energy they had there. Hopefully that raised some awareness for businesses in other parts of the county.

“It’s very challenging, particularly in small and rural areas where it can seem very competitive at time. The more of us that are succeeding, whether we have competing businesses or not, the better it is for all of us. I came away from the BootCamp and the Community Reinvention Program with a really strong sense of that, and I’d like to see that carried on to businesses across Grand County.”

Small business owners may apply to participate in this year’s Community Reinvention Program by submitting a letter of interest. Grand County Economic Development received a $27,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant with a token $290 investment from the County for the program. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross sales to qualify.

For more information and to apply for the program, call Grand County Economic Development at (970) 531-1343 or email: dbutler@co.grand.co.us.

The Power of Mom and Pop Businesses

The other day, a friend asked me: “Don’t you worry about the future of Mom and Pop businesses?’

My answer was: “Nope, not at all. The future’s bright for small businesses.”

Here’s how I know this to be true:

3 times a year, I get to witness something amazing that confirms to me that Mom and Pop businesses can overcome any challenge that’s put in their way.

Let me share with you what I get to see:

Most of you know that I conduct a workshop in Colorado called our Destination BootCamp, where for 2½ days, I teach owners and community leaders how to make their businesses and communities irresistible to consumers.

At each BootCamp, owners of retail stores, restaurants, service businesses, professional practices, and even online businesses attend. To paraphrase Forrest Gump’s life’s like a box of chocolates quote, with every BootCamp, “We never know what we’re gonna get”.

Unlike typical association conferences where everyone is from the same industry, our BootCamp mixes business owners from different industries and different parts of the world and puts them together in one room for 2½ days. Most aren’t competition to each other and most have never met before. It surprises me, but I’ve also learned that even business owners from the same city or town who attend together often don’t know each other very well. But it makes sense: Who has time for friendship when you have your business to run?

But here’s what happens when you put this diverse group together and show them new ways to grow their businesses, everyone (regardless of their type of business, their sales volume, the physical locations, or the number of businesses they own), starts percolating together.

It’s not enough to say that there’s an energy that spreads between the participants or a synergy that occurs when you mix these owners together. It’s more than that. When one entrepreneur meets another one, and they start discussing their challenges, I’ve found there is a natural inclination for owners to reach out when someone needs it.

“You’re an owner, just like me. You have a problem?”

“Here’s an idea that’ll help.”

Sometimes I just stand at the front of the room watching as one owner voices a concern she’s having, while another owner chimes in on how he overcame that same problem in a different industry. I watch as owners grow in confidence as they realize that regardless of their business-type or business sales volume, they have information that can help someone else in that room. And in just a matter of hours, I can watch owners who previously didn’t know each other start freely sharing their expertise with the person sitting next to them.

There are moments during every BootCamp where I just stop teaching and as I look out over the room, and I’m amazed at how such different businesses come together, learn together, and honestly share their success stories and business setbacks with each other.

Here’s one of the best stories from our March BootCamp: On the last day of class, Sarah, a retailer from Kansas who owns two retail stores, told me that she had met with Christi, a retailer from Texas who owns a chain of women’s clothing stores, and they had sat up talking until 11:30 at night, as they shared ideas, buying tips, and product sources with each other.

Here’s my challenge for you if you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur reading this blog:  Starting today, look around and be aware of that owner down the street who might need some help or advice, who probably doesn’t know how to ask for it.  Be aware that one single suggestion from you to a fellow business owner might be the breakthrough that an owner is looking for.  From this day forward, instead of just saying hello and walking by a fellow business owner, take some time to engage. To share. To show you’re around, if help’s needed. And when you’re in need of assistance and you’re at wits end, the law of reciprocity will work for you, too, bringing help back your way.

The future of Mom and Pop businesses is extremely bright, especially when independent business owners take time to lend each other a hand, an ear to listen, and have each other’s backs.

Until next week,

Jon

A Rare Opportunity for Six Ohio Business Owners: Don’t You Wish You Lived In This City?

I have to share with you an exciting opportunity that is available for business owners in one Ohio community. You’re going to wish your business was located in this city after reading this!

The reason I’m telling you about this is to bring attention to this amazing program and to get your help passing this information along to business owners who might benefit from it. Cities and towns around the country are going to be jealous of the support this Ohio community bank provides its local small business owners.

Business owners in Tiffin, Ohio have the opportunity to attend my 2½ day Destination BootCamp in Longmont, Colorado in October this year, where they will learn my 14-step strategy to turn their businesses into Consumer Destinations. For the third year, Croghan Colonial Bank has created the Small Business Reinvention Scholarship where up to six (6) Tiffin owners can receive a $1,500 scholarship for no-cost attendance to our Destination BootCamp.

Croghan Colonial Bank previously created these innovative business scholarships in both Fremont and Norwalk, Ohio. If you want to read about those communities and their business successes following their attendance, click here.

Through a partnership with the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce, six (6) individual Tiffin businesses will be chosen through an application process. The selected business owners will attend the Destination BootCamp on October 9 -11, 2012. Upon their return, there will be monthly conference calls conducted by me to help the owners put into practice what they learned at the BootCamp. After they come to the BootCamp, I will then travel to Tiffin to conduct a workshop for all the businesses there and conduct on-site one-on-one consultations with each business owner who attended the BootCamp.

If you know a Tiffin business owner who could benefit from this program, or if you are a Tiffin, Ohio business owner who wants to grab this opportunity, contact Gwen Stallard at Croghan Colonial Bank, gstallard@croghan.com or John Detwiler at jdetwiler@tiffinchamber.com, or (419) 447-4141. You can also call me at my office at (303) 774-6522 and I can talk to you more about what you’ll learn at our BootCamp.

The application for this exciting program can be found by clicking here:

Applications are due on July 16, 2012 with final selections to be made not later than August 15, 2012.

If you want to learn more about our company’s Community Reinvention Program (which has had over 40 communities participate in it), you can click here:

Thanks, Everyone!

Jon Schallert